This post is part of a series on cornbread; the simple yet widely variable staple of the Southern table.

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I decided to change the name of this series. “In Search of the Perfect Cornbread” had a couple of issues; the first, and certainly not the least, being that it kind of reminds me of that show with Leonard Nimoy where he goes in search of Sasquatch and things like that. The second problem I have with the title is that I quickly realized that finding the “perfect” cornbread recipe is in fact a bit like looking for Sasquatch. You’ll never find it because “perfect” is different for everyone. Who am I to say that this recipe is more Southern than that one? Food cultures just don’t work that way. Instead, they are ever-evolving systems that work with individuals’ tastes. So, instead, I’ve decided to look for my perfect cornbread recipe. Who knows if I’ll ever find it, but like searching for Sasquatch, the searching is the fun part.

My friend Aggie posted a comment to the last cornbread post. Unlike me, she grew up eating cornbread at every meal and knows a thing or two about it. So, I decided to put her recipe at the top of my list. It definitely comes much closer to the “real thing” as I know it. She brought up a few excellent points in her comment; one of them being that you can in fact use other fats, such as lard or Crisco for your cornbread. I used some of the neutral lard in this batch and it came out delicious. The smell as you take the bread out of the skillet is like nothing else in the world…that said, I do like the subtle flavor that bacon grease adds.

Katy pointed out in an e-mail that a  cast-iron skillet is a must for cornbread. I have to agree with her. Of course, cornbread can be made in other containers, but the cast-iron gives the bread a dark, crispy crust, which is in my mind a necessity.

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Here’s Aggie’s recipe. This is real country cornbread. Thanks Aggie!

1 heaping cup self-rising cornmeal mix
1 heaping tablespoon bacon grease (or lard, or Crisco)
Some Milk (Aimee’s note: for me this translated to 1/2 c. or so)
1 egg

Pre-heat oven to 500 degrees.
On stove-top melt grease in small cast iron skillet (no bigger than 8″)
In bowl mix together cornmeal, egg, and milk until batter is the consistency of pancake batter.
pour in melted grease and thoroughly blend (its o.k. if it sizzles)
Pour batter into hot skillet and bake at 500 for about 12 minutes.
If unsure of doneness, stick a fork or toothpick in it. If it comes out clean, its done.
Immediately flip pone out of skillet on to cutting board or plate.
Cut yourself a slice and enjoy. If you want, you can slice it open and smear with butter.

For larger skillets I use about 1 and 1/2 cups to 2 cups mix, about 2 tablespoons grease, and 1 or 2 eggs. (I usually use 2 eggs, because my Momma liked it that way.)

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